Ok, so you've decided to make music. That's wonderful! Welcome to the community! The music that you'll be creating is obviously the most important thing you're going to have to work on, but that doesn't mean there aren't other things to think about. Doing this whole "being a musician" thing comes with responsibilities if you want to make it far and be smart about it. Just after you've started your career and named your project (whether that's an Arcade Fire-sized band or just you and a computer), here are a few essential next steps you need to take care of before you go any further.
1. Reserve the name on social media
This is an easy first step and one you should do as quickly as possible. By now, plenty of names are already taken on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and the like, so you may have to get a little creative. For example, if your band name is The ____ (insert whatever word hasn't already been used for a band name), that might not be available on the most popular social channels. If that's so, consider doing something along the lines of "The _____ rock," "The _____ music," or "The ____ singer," if you're going it alone.
When you're registering all these social channels, keep two things in mind: make it simple, and stay consistent. Do your best to keep the name short and as easy to remember as you can. While it may be fun to think of some other phrase that's possibly funny and would look great after an @ symbol, it isn't a great idea when it comes to branding. People will remember you for your online names these days, and don't underestimate that. If it's long or confusing, it's probably not a good fit.
Once you've chosen a name, make sure you keep that across all social platforms. If your name isn't available on one, don't change it up on others to accommodate what's offered. Check all of the social channels you intend to be on, and make your name the same on all of them. If that means you need to go with a second-choice name ("The _____ rock"), so be it.
2. Buy the website domain
This comes right after securing your social channels, and you should do it almost as quickly. I'd suggest going for social media before your website, as one has definitely overtaken the other in terms of which is more important. Sure, a website is a good thing to have, but social comes first these days. Hell, even if you never actually get around to making the website (which I don't suggest), it's still good to have the domain secured just in case. Depending on availability and price, you may want to consider buying up a few domain names. If your band name is something really original, purchasing the .com, .net, .org, and a handful of other options might not be a bad idea. Some of the ending choices (especially those less used) can be pretty cheap.
3. Come up with a logo
Now, this can be a bit tough, especially if you're not very gifted in the art department. You won't need a logo right away, but if you start playing live, and if releasing music is in the near future, it's something you and your band will want to think about. Branding is important in music (as it is in any industry), and you shouldn't overlook creating a quality logo for your project. That may mean reaching out to artists, both traditional and digital, for ideas, or possibly having them create the entire logo/font theme themselves. This can be expensive, but often, there are people talented enough to make a perfectly fine logo for not too much money.
4. Trademark it
By "it," I mean everything, once you have it. Trademark your name and your logo. This might sound extreme, but it isn't difficult or too expensive to do, so why not take the precaution? If you're serious about making music your life's work, and this project is something you want to stick with, make the effort to make sure nobody else can steal your awesome name and logo.
Hugh McIntyre is a freelance pop music journalist in NYC by way of Boston. He has written for Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, and MTV, as well as various magazines and blogs around the world. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of the blog Pop! Bang! Boom! which is dedicated to the genre of pop in all of its glory.